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Apple Dividend History: Yup, the Tech Giant Is Officially a Dividend Stock

By Daniel Sparks - Aug 29, 2016 at 10:32AM

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Here's a close look at Apple's dividend history and its dividend today.

Some might wonder: "Does Apple really pay dividends?"

Yes, Apple pays a quarterly dividend. Despite the fact Apple ( AAPL 3.09% ) CEO Steve Jobs famously opposed dividends, Apple has actually turned into a very good dividend stock, paying $2.28 per share each year, increasing its dividend annually, and currently boasting about a 2.1% dividend yield.

Here's a look at Apple's dividend and its history.

Apple stock's dividend

Metric

Apple

Microsoft

Dividend yield

2.1%

2.5%

Payout ratio

25%

67%

3-year average annualized dividend growth

9.4%

16.1%

Annual dividends per share

$2.28

$1.44

Data for table retrieved from Reuters. Table source: Author.

Today, Apple is a strong dividend stock. While the company's dividend yield of about 2.1% is close to the average dividend yield of companies in the S&P 500, investors should note how low the tech giant's payout ratio is; paying out just 25% of its earnings today, there is significant room for Apple to increase its dividends in the coming years. Another way to look at how easily Apple could increase its dividend is by looking at its annual dividend payments and free cash flow. Of Apple's $50 billion of trailing-12-month free cash flow, it paid out just $12 billion in dividends.

In other words, Apple investors should expect plenty more dividend increases in the years ahead. Indeed, management has promised exactly this.

Apple dividend history

Between 1987 and 1995, Apple paid quarterly dividends, starting at a quarterly dividend of $0.06 in 1987 and ending at $0.12 in 1995. But between 1995 and 2012, Apple did not pay any dividends.

Apple resumed its dividend in 2012 at $2.65 per share on a quarterly basis. Notably, Apple's stock split 2-for-1 two times by the time it reinitiated its dividend.

Today, Apple pays a dividend of $0.57 per share on a quarterly basis. But investors should again note that Apple split its shares 7-for-1 in 2014. Without this share split, Apple's quarterly dividend payment today would be close to $4.

AAPL Dividend Chart

AAPL Dividend data by YCharts

If you're wondering when Apple pays its quarterly dividends, here's the schedule of its last four payouts. Future quarterly dividends should be paid approximately around these same dates of the year.

Apple dividend payout amount

Payment schedule

$0.57

August 8, 2016

$0.57

May 9, 2016

$0.52

February 8, 2016

$0.52

November 9, 2015

Data for table retrieved from Apple's investor relations page. Table source: Author.

A new era

Apple's long stretch of not paying any dividends reflected Jobs' opposition to them. During Jobs' second tenure at Apple from 1997 to 2012, the tech giant didn't pay a single dividend, even as its cash hoard ballooned to over $50 billion in 2011.

"The cash in the bank gives us tremendous security and flexibility," Jobs said in 2010. 

But by 2012, and after Jobs had passed the reigns to Tim Cook, Apple finally reinitiated its dividend, making it the company's first dividend since 1995. The combination of Jobs' passing in 2011 and a cash hoard exceeding $100 billion in 2012 marked the beginning of a new era for Apple. Overnight, Apple became a formidable dividend stock -- and it looks like it's going to stay this way.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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